No crowd? No problem.
The defending Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest winners Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo satisfied their hunger for success on July 4 with record-breaking wins in an isolated and socially distant 2020 renewal of the Independence Day tradition.
On the men’s side, Chestnut broke his all-time record by eating 75 hot dogs in one sitting to remain the reigning champion. Chestnut, 36, has won 13 times in the last 14 years – breaking his record in the 10-minute eating event.
On the women’s side, Miki Sudo again claimed her title, eating 48.5 dogs and bun in 10 minutes making this her seventh straight victory. She also broke the record for most hot dogs eaten during the women’s event.
The Nathan’s Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island went on indoors and out of public view to avoid social gathering because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chestnut did say the air conditioned indoor temperatures of the second floor of the Coney Island Nathan’s building on Stillwell Avenue might possibly allow him to break his record, and he was right.
The contest featured a wide 30-foot-long table with only five competitors compared to the usual 15. Each contestant was separated by plexiglass and that same glass separated members of the media nearby. In addition, all of the contenders were quarantined prior to the event to prevent any possible spread of the coronavirus.
Some of the contenders including fan-favorites such as big Eric “Badlands” Booker on the men’s side and Larell Marie Mele, from Long Pond, Pensylvania, on the women’s side.
Nathan’s donated 100,000 hot dogs to the Food Bank for New York City, and additional efforts were made this year to raise money and bring awareness to the needs of food banks worldwide.
George Shea, the event’s emcee, was determined to put on the annual hot dog contest, but was forced indoors to comply with social distancing and gathering guidelines. Even much of the media were unable to attend, and the event was kept secret until the last possible moment to keep crowds from gathering outside.
The event is typically attended by thousands.
“Hopefully next year, we will be back outdoors and bring back the contest to the Coney Island community,” Shea said.
This story first appeared on AMNY.com.